About two years ago, I decided waitressing would be something fun to try and got a part-time, lunch-time job at a nearby restaurant. Now, I wanted a classy experience with good return on my time, so the restaurant I picked is a top notch, 5 star establishment. This is not Chuck-E-Cheese; we rarely get kids there at all – mostly business people schmoozing clients or doctors who visit regularly. The average lunch bill per person is about $23.
I love working there! I love to entertain, so I pretend that the whole restaurant is my large home dining room and everyone there is my personal guest. There’s no work or stress to bring home, there’s an invigorating pace when the customers come in, it occupies just a few hours a week, and I average 23% in tips. Management is super flexible when I need to be home for a sick child or take a day away to go to a presentation at school. And I’m learning how to cook new recipes and expanding my taste horizons, which is a big accomplishment for someone who wouldn’t even try chocolate pudding when she was little (according to my mom!).
But far an away the most disappointing part of the job has been discovering how cheap most women are when it comes to tipping. I kid you not – when a table of women comes in, all the servers hold their breath hoping they don’t get assigned to it. Now, I understand that times are tight all around. And if you receive poor service, you have every right to compensate the server – or not – accordingly. But if you can’t afford to tip the wait staff appropriately, please don’t eat out!
Case in point: I serviced a table of four middle-aged women the other day. They had obviously been to our restaurant before as they were familiar with the menu, so our upscale prices were not a shock. They came near the end of lunch seating, so we weren’t swamped or slow to service them. They all had special orders, which is also typical for a table of women, but never bothers me. (I always order things the way I want them, too. Think high maintenance a la “When Harry Met Sally” and that’s me!).
When they ordered additional salads, I brought exactly what they wanted but rang it a different way and saved them $5 – and mentioned it to them so they wouldn’t be surprised when the bill came. As far as I know, every lunch order was made exactly as they wanted it – at least they made mention of that fact and said they were impressed. Their glasses were never empty, they loved their desserts, and when I switched out their sugar caddy for one with more Splenda, I did it so smoothly that one even said, “Oh…I was going to ask for more Splenda because I thought we were out, but I see some right here!” I even took their picture for them.
All in all, I was feeling fantastic about my service to them and when they paid the majority of their $127 bill with a $100 gift certificate, I was confident that the standard 20% or more was coming my way. But alas, it was a table of women, so I was disappointed but not really surprised when my tip was a mere $15 (less than 12%).
So ladies, if you are eating out with the girls, take some advice from a server in the know. The standard compensation these days for good service is 20% to 25%. If the service far exceeds your expectations, tip more. This especially holds if you are paying by credit card, because many restaurants deduct those 3% to 5% credit card processing from their servers’ paychecks. Do our gender a favor and DON’T be a cheap woman!